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date: 19 November 2019

Dom Sébastien, roi de Portugal (‘Dom Sebastian, King of Portugal’)locked

  • William Ashbrook

Extract

(‘Dom Sebastian, King of Portugal’)

Opé ra in five acts by Gaetano Donizetti to a libretto by Eugène Scribe after Paul-Henri Foucher’s Dom Sébastien de Portugal (1838); Paris, Opéra, 13 November 1843.

The action of Donizetti’s last opera is set in Lisbon and in the Moroccan desert in 1578. A fleet prepares to carry the crusade of the King of Portugal, Dom Sébastien (tenor; originally Gilbert Duprez), against the Moors. The Grand Inquisitor, Dom Juam de Sylva (bass), plans to betray his country to Spain during Sébastien’s absence, in view of the weakness of the regent, Sébastien’s uncle Dom Antonio (tenor). The poet Camoëns (baritone; originally Paul Barroilhet) asks the king to let him accompany the expedition. They are interrupted by the spectacle of a beautiful Moorish girl, Zayda (mezzo-soprano; originally Rosine Stolz), who although baptized a Christian is being led to the stake by the Inquisition. When the king inquires about her crime the Grand Inquisitor denounces her as an apostate. The king orders her to be freed and declares that he will return her to her father in Africa. Asked to deliver an augury for the expedition, Camoëns hints at disaster, as the sky grows ominously dark, but soon the sun shines again as the forces optimistically embark....

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